4229 Berwick Ave.
Toledo 12 Ohio
17th Oct. 1946
Dearest little Mamma,
I am feeling very guilty because I haven’t written you a long letter to yourself for 2 weeks, and although you say not to bother because you know I’m busy, I like to keep up to date with my gossip with you. I certainly am busy, honey – I don’t think your daughter will ever have worked as hard in her life that she’s going to work these next few weeks, which will be quite a nice change for me, won’t it?! I never realized I was coming to America to TOIL! Last night I spent 2 1/2 hours marking papers for my classes, tonight I have just written 4 business letters (2 of them I had to write out twice because of mistakes! Loud curses!) and during the next 5 weeks, I have 11 social engagements, at 8 of which I have to speak! Besides that I am being asked to talk to some of the English classes in school, & that means double work, because they give me a list of subjects ranging from Chaucer, the Shakespeare Memorial Theater, G.B. Shaw, British Bird Life to English wild flowers, & although I can babble happily about flowers, I have to go to the library & read up some facts on Chaucer etc.! Then I have to leave my Home Ec class some work to do when I go to the English class, and then mark the work afterwards! I still haven’t finished my list of tasks though – two of the school social clubs – the Home Ec club & the Junior Friendship Club have asked me to be their Advisor (partly politeness – partly because I look young & giddy I think!) which entails going to some of their after school meetings– the Junior Party Committee have asked me to be a Chaperone(!!) at the “Pum’kin Prance”, their Halloween dance, and to crown it all Miss Sanger (the supervisor) has asked me to write a 900 word article for a Home Ec magazine on English Domestic Science – AND– the last straw! the girl at the British Embassy in Washington has written asking me if I will be one of about 1/2 a dozen teachers they are asking to keep an account of how their money lasts in the U.S.A. & how it compares with U.S. salaries – so that means I have to keep a record of every penny I spend & send a monthly account to Washington. Can you imagine! Why did they pick on me? They must know that I used to keep an account in Cambridge & think I’m used to it! So you can see I am busy – but don’t worry – it’s not really bothering me at all, and I am sure I shall manage all right, but I just like people to know the full extent of my activities!!!
I got another lovely long A.M. letter from you today posted 14th October I think – so it was most wonderfully quick. You were answering one of my A.M. letters, and saying you couldn’t realize that it was telling you of things I’d done just a few days ago, and I feel exactly the same way. It seems nearly impossible to today- Thursday- I should know all about your talking to Irene & seeing Denis & Winnie last Sunday! Ain’t life amazing! Talking of your A.M. letters, I have never had to pay extra postage on them, but I noticed Nan had to put 2/6 on her last letter. In the U.S. they send a letter back to you if it is overweight & I’ve had 1 or 2 returned to me for extra postage to be stuck on, so now I am more careful. Etta, Til’s sister in law, who comes and cleans the house on Fridays, is a dear, fat soul, a bit like an older Mrs. Scott, & she has brought me a little old rusty letter scales that she had at home, but it will be useful to me if I am doubtful, even though I don’t suppose it’s very accurate. Do you remember my ever telling you about how amused I was when Hugh said York was a “priddy ciddy” for “pretty city”? Well I was under the impression for weeks that Etta was Edda, & just to confirm it asked Til one day & overcame her with shame, she said! Since then Til always says E tt tt a with about 10 Ts, most distinctly!
Saturday 2nd Nov. 10 p.m.
Dearest Mummy – I said at the beginning of this letter that I feel guilty – now I feel downright ashamed of myself. But all the work I was telling you about seemed to catch up with me, and I just didn’t seem to have a moment to write any letters at all. I haven’t been naughty and been reading books either – I’ve been really busy! I think another thing too, it has been wonderful weather for the past few weeks, but so hot that I think it made me sort of tired, and when I tried to write to you in bed as I used to in Cambridge I just drooped & gave it up & went to sleep! I have decided now that I will send this A.M. and as I have far too much to say if I answer your letter & tell you the news too, I am going to answer your letters in this & then write a screed of my past doings & send it by sea. I think that is best, because you know the facts of my doings by my weekly A.M.s to you & Pop, so it doesn’t matter if the details are a bit late in arriving.
I didn’t get your letter this week yet – perhaps the air line pilot strikes or whatever it is, has delayed it a little, but I have here letters from you dated 20th S: 28 & 30th S: 11th O.: 21 O: so I will be kept busy answering all those! Before I begin on them though I must tell you that I heard from Jacob not long ago & he is well & happy in Amsterdam; & I had a letter from Anne & she & Tadek are engaged & she has the ring & everything! I sent her a cable today & wrote to her as well. They are very sad though because Tadek has been sent back to the Army in Scotland & cannot finish taking his degree in Cambridge, so I am going to see if I can do anything over here to help him get across. Anne also told me that Jessie Hall is going to London with the children (I haven’t heard a word from her since I came over) and Jessie F. is having a dreadful time finding a place to live- and that the late murderer Heath was Ralph Fisher’s (Jessie’s brother) best friend when they were in the R.A.F. & that letters from Heath to Ralph were in all the papers! Did you see any of them? Jessie kept it very dark until it came out in the papers apparently. I had a letter from Jessie herself – very short though – enclosing a letter from- who do you think? – Alastair Fraser! I laughed & laughed! He apologized for not writing sooner, but said he had hoped to come & see me in Cambridge but as soon as he was demobbed they slipped him home & he was writing on board ship! Wasn’t it a good job he didn’t go to Cambridge? He gave me his address & asked me to write again! Wasn’t that funny? I heard from U. Artie too this week – a letter to tell me about the postage to England being reduced – wasn’t that sweet of him? And he also said that Aunt Ettie and Aunt Muriel had arrived safely in New York after flying from the W.I.! Aren’t they having fun?!
Now, at long last for your letters – the first one you enclosed the Pearl cheque, which I have signed & am returning, & also Ken Grundy’s letter to you- thank you for both. I wrote to Ken & also wrote to Carl a little while ago, just to say hello, but I haven’t had any reply. I must write to François sometimes – I asked Hugh about him, but he hadn’t heard anything about him recently. I was most interested to hear all about the American girl, Miss Johnson, you met at Mary Nutley’s – I am so glad that you got a chance to meet her at & liked her & that you saw her again. I feel awfully pleased that you & all the girls are meeting the Americans in N/C & inviting them to bees & things because as far as I can make out Marie isn’t getting very many invitations in Cambridge & I think it is lovely to go to informal friendly parties rather than the big, professional functions that I have to go to here. In that way you can make real friends & that is what I do miss here – getting to know other girls my own age & tastes & having them just to go out with to a picture or something in the evening. That is why I think it’s just grand that Mary has become friendly with Miss J. & I think it will be lovely for them both. Anne said that she had heard from Mary, & so I hope that they all managed to meet Anne & Marie & they that they had fun. I wrote a letter to Mary not long ago, & enclosed a note to Bunty with best wishes for the baby! I am looking forward to hearing how Irene’s Anglo-American Bee went, & what you all thought of the Wallsend exchange teacher. I have discovered that there is another English teacher in Michigan not far away so I thought of getting in touch with her too.
You ask in one of your letters about the Lake here, & whether it is built up etc – I don’t remember if I told you or not, but I have never even seen the Lake yet except from the plane that time. Til & Lois are so busy that they don’t have the time to drive me around much, & that is where I miss having a friend who would do things with me. Also, I am so busy at weekends, I have so many other jobs to do that I don’t get around to jaunting & over here, you know what it’s like, if you don’t have a car, you are so handicapped and going anywhere take such a long time. However Pam Holbrow & I are planning some trips together, so maybe I will be able to tell you all about the lake soon. Toledo, by the way, is a city a bit bigger than N/C, but very “sprawly” about the outskirts. To W. Toledo, where I live, there is a street car (tram to us) which takes 30 to 45 mins. to go into town, but the centre of the town is quite compact. There are quite a lot of nice stores- Lamson’s and Lasalle’s are the 2 big good ones & lots of other cheap little shops of course. The Municipal Buildings are new & very imposing, but the middle of the town is crowded & dirty just like any other city!
I was glad that you had seen Katie & Edgar, & that Katie was looking well – I must send them a P.C. sometime. I sent P.C.s to Maud, Bella & Mrs. Johnson the other day & I wrote to Winnie & Dennis for Bobby’s birthday- today. I hope she got it all right. You were asking about all these functions – where they were “hen” or mixed – most of them are females only, but when the men teachers are there it doesn’t make much difference because they are all old & dull & like men teachers I’ve met anywhere! I don’t think I’ve spoken to a nice, unattached young man since I came to Toledo- barring a truck driver I met went Til went to get her driver’s license & he wanted to make a date with me! Oh – I forgot the pilot at Lois’ airfield, but he is just friendly & not at all interested in me & of course Til’s son Bill has been home twice but he’s married anyway & I never did more than speak 2 words to him when we were having breakfast! In fact Toledo reminds me very much of N/C with the MAN situation! I must see what I can do elsewhere! Of course, the thing is too, that all the teachers I am in contact with are so much older & not interested in men & don’t ever seem to ever go out with them or anything.
I had a letter from Irene the other day thanking me for some magazines I sent & telling me of how much she had got for selling my clothes! I think it is a wonderful idea, & nice to have some money to come back to! They (Irene and Bill) seem to have got the wedding all settled now, & I do hope that the house is ready & that everything goes well for them. I think it should be very nice, & you must be sure to go looking your most dashing! Have you worn your red hat yet?! I wonder if Irene has got her parcel yet – I don’t know if I told you, I finally sent two sets towels for the wedding present & a length of pretty cloth for tea towels & a pr. of pure silk stockings! I do hope she gets it all right. You know since I’ve been here I’ve sent 11 parcels, & I haven’t heard of any of them arriving yet – I’ll be mad if they don’t! You’ll be wondering what the 11 are, so here goes: –
- Dottie- birthday – groceries & candy & lipstick
- Anne & Tadek- candy (Tadek’s birthday)
- Coleridge staff- candy
- Mary Egan- stockings & a bib for Anne
- Zinnia- birthday- cotton sunsuit (red) & a little blue cotton dress for the baby
- Irene- parcel- I told you about
- Jessie’s H & F.’s birthdays together so I sent them 2 prs. Earrings & 2 bottles nail varnish to split between them. The earring were cute- 1 pr. was little silver daggers & the other little gold hearts with arrows through.
- Peter Burton- birthday- candy
- Mrs Allen- Food parcel
- Mrs Ewing- Food parcel
- Mrs G. (Ludwik’s mother)- Food parcel
I sent the latter latter just about two weeks ago & I do hope you & Maud get them safely. I can hardly remember all the funny things I put in, but in Maud’s I put one or two little things for Winnie & Bella & in yours I put a little tin for Mrs. J- and in Maud’s there were some biscuits for the Bee too. I got coffee & cocoa & soap & candy for Mrs. G. and packed it well, but I wonder if the poor old lady will ever get it. I was just horrified when I took the parcels to the P.O. to post them, because apart from the cost of the things inside they cost $3 (15/) for postage alone! I nearly collapsed! I am being very good over birthdays etc. & send cards to everyone- I sent one to Miss Lefroy amongst other people & am sending off Peter B’s, Anne Eagan’s & Geraldine Kerr’s this weekend. I get such a kick out of buying all the pretty cards! I tried to get Anne a congratulations on engagement card today, but I couldn’t find one, so I made up a little verse and sent it with a perfume flower made of paper instead.
You were asking about my classes & they are getting on as usual- this weekend the teachers are “grading”- that is giving each student in their classes a mark A B C D or F, which is fail. They get this done 4 times in a year & the grade goes on their “grade card” which is like a report & is shown to the parent & then kept at school as a record. I have a whole pile of grade cards to fill out & a mountain of “booklets” to mark. We have been doing “Breakfasts” & besides talking about them and cooking them, the kids have been writing about them & illustrating the papers with pictures & making booklets. Some of them are just beautiful with wonderful drawings & covers & cut out pictures & even little cellophane packets of coffee etc. stuck in, to show the different beverages! But the time it takes to mark them – oh my! My bad boys in my home room go on as usual – but they are really so funny that they make me laugh! There’s no wickedness in them at all, but they’re just full of wisecracks & chatter & after all, after being quelled by a very strict old maid (not Miss Stoll) that they had as their H. room teacher before me, I don’t wonder! However, when it’s necessary I can keep them quiet but when there is nothing definite to do, I let them talk. I still have my lovely boys in my cookery classes, but they are getting on all right & don’t seem to mind & they’re nice too & never give me any bother. It amuses me to see them there, though!
You ask in one of your letters about my new coat, & I can’t remember if I told you about it before or not. Anyway I’ll tell you now. It is what they call “smoke white” in colour – that is a pale greyish beige – it is very thick with a padded lining & it has a little grey musquash tie at the neck which is detachable. The sleeves are big & balloonish which is apparently fashionable & as it is such an undecided colour it is very useful because I can wear it with black, or brown or anything. Last weekend I got a pair of brown shoes (high-heeled!) and a hat to match the coat. It is a sort of furry felt in a beret shape with a gold ornament on one side & sits on the back of my head. I also got a very cheap cotton brown dress – or rather, it’s a skirt with a little short sleeved jacket – as I was very short of thin things to wear at school & it was so hot. You asked about my salary, but I don’t actually have it sent to me here – all I do is go to a Bank with my Letter of Credit & draw out what I need. I find things pretty expensive of course, & with my coat I seemed to spend a lot, but taking out £50 pounds for my fare back, I divided the remaining money in 4, & for the 1st 3 months I had just spent about a 1/4 of my money, including the coat, so I thought it wasn’t so bad. I now pay Til $12 a week (£3) which includes room (& cleaning of it) also use of everything in the house- breakfast & dinner, whether we go out or stay in– and my afternoon cup of tea! That leaves me with lunches to buy in the school cafeteria, & it usually costs from 40¢- 50¢ even at the cheapest, & as we only have toast & marmalade & coffee & sometimes fruit for breakfast, I am always hungry! All of the teachers get more salary than I do – I don’t mean just more salary than I do, but more than the £500 I have for the year. – And they are threatening to strike because they are so underpaid. Some of the wages you hear of are terrific – some of the pilots at the airport get $400 a month! And don’t seem to be able to keep out of debt on that even. It is a shame really that prices should be so high & us so restricted when we are here, because it does make you so money-conscious & I’m always feeling I must be careful when I choose a meal, & don’t like to buy a dress when I see one I like just in case my money won’t do. It would be lovely if I could really buy & send all the lovely things I see, too. I think I told you that I got paid $10 for my talk last week- & I went right out and bought a nice pair of dark red shoes this time! (This is the first time I ever got paid for talking.) I only hope that someone else gets the bright idea of paying me for speaking!
I am glad that you & Dottie had a nice time together in town – I owe her two letters, so I must write to her tomorrow. I don’t wonder that she is fed up, poor Dottie – it is horrible for her, I think, & of course everyone moving around & doing things makes it worse for her. I am glad that Michael & Mary are going to Manchester, by the way – or rather, glad that Michael has a job, even though it is Manchester. I didn’t know Marjorie Barton was moving to Leeds – it will be an improvement on W. Hartlepool I should think! Don’t you worry about what Dottie says about me & Hugh Mummy – Dottie wrote as much to me herself, & I’m not worried, because I know that it just isn’t so. Dottie has quite a bee in her bonnet about Lee, but I am quite convinced that Lee hasn’t a bother in the world about Hugh & me, & she & I got quite matey & she even told me how difficult Hugh was to get on with at times etc. etc. in a very wifely way! Also, she didn’t mind a scrap about J.P. liking me- she told me herself & laughed about it – I can imagine Dottie being jealous over Peter- not that I can visualize Peter being attached to anyone older, but J.P. is an affectionate little boy & when Jim Wallerstein is there he adores Jim, & the same with other visitors & the same with me. And I am quite sure that Hugh’s Father and Mother wouldn’t have been so kind & sweet to me if they thought I was doing any harm, nor they nor Lee herself invited me back. Not that I’m certain I will go back- one reason I’d like to, is that they were all so kind to me & that I get a chance of seeing another type of home & life in this country, but I won’t go if they don’t make a point of really asking me again. Since I’ve been here I’ve written once to thank Lee & Hugh for having me & I got a reply from Hugh about 2 weeks ago, so I don’t think that I’m having a disturbing influence on the Brown family. I honestly do think that Dottie is making a mountain out of a molehill & giving it an importance it doesn’t deserve – so don’t you worry about your erring daughter honey – I am really very sensible!
I was so amused at Mrs. Johnny’s nearly laughing herself silly over my Persian love affair! I’m sorry I have no more thrilling episodes to tell her! I promised the poor little man I’d write you know, and I kept putting it off & putting it off, but I felt that I simply had to keep my word for the honour of England! So last week I wrote a very short note & told him I hadn’t written before as I hoped he would forget me – that the whole thing was impossible & that it was better if we didn’t begin a correspondence!
You were talking about my “pals” the Atkinsons in one of your letters, & last week they asked Til to tell me that they were going up to Windsor in Canada today & would I like to come too. Well, of course I’d loved to have gone, but I just felt that I couldn’t stand driving all that way with them, so I said I was sorry, I was busy! I was too, because I did a lot of my Christmas shopping today, but I’ll tell you more about that in my next letter. Anyway Pam H. & I are thinking of going to Detroit & Windsor one weekend ( there’s just a river between the two) so I’ll see it in more congenial company! The Atkinsons haven’t any family at all.
I was awfully sorry to hear about the Scotts having to have poor little Goldie put down – I know how much they’ll all miss her – she was such a pet. I am sure that they’ll have plenty to do with the wedding plans just now, so they won’t have so much time to think about it. I am most intrigued to hear about all the liquor Mr. Scott has for the wedding – you go ahead and have fun! Do you remember you and me going to Brenda’s Arthur’s party at Blyth & coming giggling home afterwards!! By the way, I was so glad to hear that the family had met Jane & Bill & were charmed with Janie. I am pleased that you heard from Janie herself too but I expect that she is finding it rather strange even though she is enjoying it. I was awfully sorry to hear about Billo’s trouble, but I do hope that it is nothing serious & that it will soon clear up, but it is a shame, & also about the Trinidad Oil people not keeping his job for him. I do hope that they get settled soon, because I expect it is all being quite a strain on them both, but maybe once Bill gets to work things will be better.
I was glad that you saw little Mrs. White & heard all the news about Mary. I hope that she gets some place to live soon too, because their married life has been a series of moves, poor dears, & they must be longing to get more settled down. I am glad that Olwen & her baby are well too, but did she tell you if Noel had got a job yet, or what was happening? Imagine Mrs. White turning down a chance of coming to America free! Of course, I suppose she isn’t well, poor little woman, & doesn’t want to leave Gerard or Mary or the baby, but maybe the trip would do her good, as well as being a lot of fun. I was interested to hear about your meeting Norman Luke’s wife too & that she is actually nice- poor girl!
I was so surprised about A. Trix saying she thought I might hate it here & be very unhappy – it just shows how little she knows me! I can’t imagine myself settling down to be unhappy just because I was in a strange place – certainly it’s not what I imagined, but I never even dimly visualized being miserable!
I loved hearing about the Mannequin Parade & the Goldwyn Girls – it must have been lovely. It sounds really pre-war to have such things again, doesn’t it? I’d love to see the cutting if you send it. I was sorry to hear that you don’t think Nan & Dottie had a very exciting time at the Lakes – it is such a shame that they had to take Peter too, because it is such a tie, & other people’s children all the time are a bit wearing! I do hope that your conjectures about Nan & Dick aren’t really true – not that I was wild about Dick as you know, but I should hate to have Nan miserable about it. Do let me know if you find out any more. Imagine Maud pulling your leg about going out – as Daddy says she is the one that’s always gadding about! And why shouldn’t you go out too, I’d like to know. Regarding the gas ovens by the way – you can tell Denis that they are not only gas, but they’re old-fashioned models too & that I’d much prefer electricity if he could arrange it! Til and Lois have a most beautiful modern gas stove though – it is a dream of white enamel & all the burners & oven light themselves & it is all covered in & beautiful. The oven has a glass door & lights up as you open it & can be regulated to the minute- it’s really lovely.
You asked about the English girl, Vida McCartney – she is the one, married to a man, Fraser, who has begun a nurseries and flower shop with his brother. One of the other English teachers, Dorothy Lake (she was in my cabin) is a great friend of Vida’s & visited her in Toledo & left a message for me at the Y.W. giving me her address. So I phoned her that very first week & went out with her & Fraser & liked them both quite well – but neither of them actually “my type”! Vita is very clever I think- was with the B.B.C. & met Fraser before the war when he was studying horticulture at Kew. The dumb English girl at the Atkinson’s I’ve never seen since – thank goodness!
I forgot that I had never told you much about Bill, Til’s son – actually I haven’t much to tell as I’ve hardly seen him, as I told you earlier in this letter. But he’s tall & nice looking & is quite jolly & full of wisecracks like Til. Til told me once that it wasn’t his wife’s fault that the marriage went to bits, but another time she told me about the girl & she seems to have been the laziest little slut you ever heard of! Til used to go over every day & clean the house & wash the nappies or they would never have been done, & she just lay on the couch all day & sometimes did didn’t even wash her face or comb her hair all day, although she was very pretty. She was a spoiled Southern girl apparently & went on being that way. She looks pretty in her picture, but the two little boys look podgy! Bill didn’t leave the States during the war- he was a navigating instructor & has just become a pilot since.
I must stop now as my arm is just about dropping off & goodness knows how much this letter weighs! I’m glad that Pop is keeping more cheerful – does he bother to read my long A.M.’s & does he make any comments? Take care of yourself- My love to all the girls- old & young! And lots of love for you from
When I sorted and organized these letters a dozen years ago, I left a note on this one: ‘Sometimes you realize she was only 31.’ The mother I knew would have been more knowledgeable about how busy her friend Jessie would have been with a toddler and a newborn- but this Cynthia obviously wasn’t. Also, I suppose, not much was known in those days about postpartum depression, and if Bill’s poor wife met with no sympathy, it’s no wonder the marriage broke up.